A few encouraging steps forward followed by a worrying stride backwards – it’s been the story of Blackpool Cricket Club in recent seasons and the start of 2013 and followed a familiar format.
But strike bowler Richard Gleeson believes this season can be different
Gleeson could hardly have asked for a better start to their Northern Premier League campaign, with victories over local rivals Preston and St Annes, but Blackpool crash landed last weekend when Darwen skittled them out for 62 and defeat by seven wickets swiftly followed.
It means Gleeson is anxious for the team to get back on track at home to winless Lancaster tomorrow.
He said: “I do have extra responsibilities off the field, particularly with training and organising, though my role on the field hasn’t really changed. I’m trying to do the same thing I have in past seasons, though perhaps there is more pressure to take wickets now. It’s about trying to get the best out of everyone.
“The squad isn’t much different to last season and the club has a similar feel to it. The main thing we need to improve is our batting, which has been our weakness.
Gleeson added: “We are always looking to win things and we are getting closer. We haven’t performed when we have need to in recent seasons but the potential to win things is definitely there.
“But perhaps the expectations aren’t as high, which can work to your advantage. It worked for Fleetwood last season, then the problem with being champions is that everyone is out to beat you as they have been finding out this season.”
A minor counties regular with Cumberland, Gleeson was invited to join the Warwickshire set-up late last season, and his Blackpool captain Paul Danson has expressed surprise that more county recognition has not come the seamer’s way.
Time is still on his side and Gleeson said: “Definitely you would never say no and I’m always interested if anyone knocks on the door. I did OK in a couple of games with Warwickshire last season and fingers crossed there may be something. Hopefully, I’ll continue playing for Cumberland and see where that leads.”
Top priority is Lancaster’s visit to Stanley Park tomorrow.
Gleeson added: “We want to get back to the form of the first two games and this is an opportunity.
“But if we do well this season it will be a team effort. We aren’t really about individuals. We have a good bowling unit and have added Danny Gilbert from Freckleton.
“I’m looking for John Mounsey to have a good season at the top of the batting order. John started really well and we’re looking to him to build on that.”
St Annes are also at home to winless opposition tomorrow in Kendal, while Fleetwood entertain the Darwen side which blitzed Blackpool in their bid to end a run of three straight defeats.
Another team of champions experiencing early season difficulties are Lytham, who play their first home game of the Liverpool Competition ECB premier league season against Hightown tomorrow.
After a couple of regulation wins in the Ray Digman Knockout Trophy, Lytham crashed in the league opener at Ormskirk.
Another double-figure total followed on Monday, when Lytham lost in the final Ray Digman group game at St Helens
They were dismissed for just 61, chasing a target of 175 - but qualified for the next stage as one of the best runners-up.